Places, Spaces, Meaning - Experienced by Three Australian Walks
Book chapter, 2012
In an often cited passage, the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty expresses how, when gazing at the lawn outside a window, one can experience that exterior view as part of the experience of being surrounded by an architectural space. Phenomenology explains how separate spaces might appear one.
In this essay a series of sites will be explored, from the Australian desert, to the coastline of New South Wales, experienced during a journey through Australia, not only a country, but a whole continent...By analyzing the monumental volume experienced at Uluru, the desert Cathedral, the encompassing void of Kings Canyon and the flat openness of the coastline it is possible to analyze how humankind depends upon landscapes, inhabiting sites of specific environmental conditions.
We often talk of how we are situated in a landscape. But what if we are immersed in a landscape? That is, landscape comes before language and culture. Our claim here is that what we can call our home is where we can survive by staying in contact with the landscape and the living conditions it offers to us. What we are looking for is a correspondence between man and his environment, to be at peace presupposes belonging and “dwelling” means belonging to a concrete place. By this way the landscape itself provides the very ground for the development of (architectural) language and culture.